The Canary Island archipelago features some of Europe’s most idyllic and exotic islands. Often compared to Hawaii (there are seven islands in each of these island chains), the Canary Islands are one of the few destinations within Europe that remain sunny and warm all year long, making them the ideal spot for an escape in any season. These islands are best known for their beaches (both black and white sand), volcanic wineries, and towering mountains.

Canary Islands Map | Winetraveler.com

Travel Logistics

You can fly to the larger Canary Islands like Tenerife and Gran Canaria from many European hubs. And not just from Madrid or Barcelona. Flights operate regularly between the island’s capitals and spots like Paris, London, Frankfurt, Stockholm and more. Get updates on flight deals as they arise right here.

Once there, it’s best to consider renting a car, regardless of what island you’re heading to. Public transport runs on island time, so having a car will allow you to explore some of the island’s best spots.

The islands belong to Spain (part of the EU), so you’ll need to have some euros on hand. While most larger establishments will accept credit cards, some smaller local bars and restaurants may not.

Remember, these islands are part of Europe, but are closer to Africa where the sun is strong. Make sure to bring high factor sunblock and use it.

You can also view and book a trip to Spain’s Canary Islands with this detailed itinerary.

Tenerife Visitor Information

Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest and most well-known of the Canary Islands. Visitors can enjoy the bustling capital of Santa Cruz or the black sand beaches located throughout the island. Hikes are best done at Anaga Natural Park, which has a rainy, tropical microclimate, or at famed volcano Teide, Spain’s largest summit.

You can also sample volcanic wine at spots like Monje Winery, a Winetraveler favorite for its gorgeous tasting terrace with sea views. Note that the north of the island is more lush and hilly, but rainier. Sunbirds should head to the southern side of Tenerife for prime beach weather.


RELATED: 7 Day Itinerary For Exploring Tenerife


Gran Canaria Travel Resources | Winetraveler.com

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has some unique attractions unlike any other, such as the massive Saharan Maspalomas sand dunes that might make you think you’re lost in Africa or the Middle East. Las Palmas is the capital of the island if you want a little history and architecture. Similar to Tenerife, the best weather and sandy beaches are found in the drier south. However, don’t discount the island’s northern secrets, like the famed Nublo Rock for hiking, or the views from the Tamadaba Natural Park.


RELATED: How To Spend 7 Days on Gran Canaria


Lanzarote famous volcanic vineyards | Winetraveler.com
Lanzarote is famous for its unique volcanic vineyards that are unlike any other in the world.

Lanzarote

This island is another spot to visit if you’re interested in sampling volcanic wine. Mix and match hiking in the volcanic Timafaya National Park with wine tours. The Winetraveler favorite is La Geria, where a tour of the volcanic vineyards and a tasting costs just 10 euro per person. For some sun, Playa del Papagayo is one of the most famous beaches on the island. And, don’t miss the Cesar Manrique Home and Museum (check ahead of time before visiting, may be closed due to COVID), the island’s most beloved artist. 

Fuerteventura Travel Resources | Winetraveler.com

Fuerteventura

This island was made for beach bums. With many gorgeous stretches of golden sand, there’s plenty of coastline to go around. Just note that this island is very breezy (if you couldn’t tell by its name, which means high winds in Spanish). Some of the top spots to visit are the lagoon beaches of Sotavento in the south and El Cotillo’s white sands and lava rocks in the north. Surfers of all kinds (wind, kite, and traditional) flock to the blustery Flag Beach. For a day excursion, brave the dirt roads to get to the hidden Playa del Cofete, backed by volcanic peaks.


RELATED: 7 Day Itinerary for Visiting Fuerteventura


La Gomera Canary Islands

La Gomera

For black sand beaches and stunning viewpoints, head to La Gomera. The island is also famous for its Garajonay National Forest. It’s one of the few places in Europe to see the impressive and rare laurel trees. Don’t forget to take a boat trip out to Los Órganos, a massive rock formation overlooking the crashing sea reminiscent of an actual organ.

La Palma Canary Islands

La Palma

La Palma is one of the top stargazing spots in the world. Thanks to the island’s focus on astrotourism, you can take an Astro Tour, or simply head to some of the observatories or stargazing points yourself. During daylight hours, enjoy the exotic black sand beaches. Or, plan to scuba or snorkel, as the island’s waters are a protected marine reserve.

El Hierro Canary Islands Travel Resources Winetraveler
Charco Azul, Blue Pool, a natural pool with turquoise water in El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain.

El Hierro

One of the smallest Canary Islands, sustainable travelers should head to El Hierro. The island’s claim to fame is that it runs on 100% renewable energy. The island is also rife with marine life apt for divers and snorkelers. For those wanting to stay on dry land, hiking in El Golfo Valley offers some stunning views of El Hierro’s diverse landscape. There are also a number of natural swimming pools ideal for a dip, like El Charco Azul.

Bottom Line

You can’t go wrong with a visit to any of the Canary Islands. Depending on your interests, there is definitely an island right for you — and if you love beaches, nature and exploring, you’ll love them all!


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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Lori Zaino is a travel expert that's lived in Madrid, Spain for over a decade. A self-taught oenophile and culinary connoisseur, she's just as comfortable backpacking through Latin America's wine country as she is demurely sipping Champagne in French castles.

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